The Bucs Training Camp Diaries are an annual training camp feature on PewterReport.com and we are fortunate to have two really good players to profile in veteran linebacker Kevin Minter, who will offer up his perspective of Todd Bowles’ defense, and wide receiver Scotty Miller, the Bucs’ sixth-round pick, who will take PewterReport.com readers through the trials and tribulations of rookie life in Bruce Arians’ first training camp in Tampa Bay. Look for Miller’s and Minter’s Bucs Training Camp Diaries twice a week throughout training camp and the preseason.
Minter is in a unique position because no other Buccaneers defender knows more about Bowles’ scheme than he does, arriving in Arizona as a second-round pick out of LSU in 2013, which was the first year that Arians and Bowles coached the Cardinals. In addition to his inside linebacker duties, Minter will serve as a coach on the field, preparing Devin White, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick, to start and flourish as a rookie while Minter battles for the backup middle linebacker role behind him.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht signed Minter last year after Kwon Alexander went down with a knee injury, and Minter made an instant impact on special teams and recorded a sack against Carolina’s Cam Newton before a calf injury forced him to the injured reserve list. Minter will be challenged by Deone Bucannon, Devante Bond, Jack Cichy and newcomers Corey Nelson and Emmanuel Smith for one of the two reserve inside linebacker roles. The 28-year old Minter will have to prove he can once again cover kicks and punts, and make some splash plays on defense in the preseason to solidify a roster spot in 2019.
It’s The Next Man Up
By Kevin Minter as told to Scott Reynolds
I’m ready to get to Pittsburgh. I’m sick of hitting these fools and I’m ready to hit somebody else. I’m ready to go out there and actually play a game again. You always get that itch this time of the year.
On Friday night I’m looking to show that I’m an old guy that’s kind of still got it and that I can still be a player in this league. Obviously, I just want to do what I can do to help the team win. I’m going to be playing defense and a little bit of everywhere on special teams. They’ve worked me on punt, kickoff and kickoff return. I’ll play anywhere they need me.
I’m entering my seventh year. This is camp seven for me and my fourth different team. Don’t get me wrong. I’m feeling every damn step because I’m an older guy, but other than that, it’s cool. I think I’ve had a good camp so far. For the most part, I’ve had a pretty well-rounded training camp. Right now it’s mostly about staying healthy, maintaining and just getting better every day.
It’s tough seeing injuries to Lavonte [David] and Vita [Vea], but it’s what Coach [Bruce Arians] always says – it’s next man up regardless of who the guy is or what kind of impact he has on the team. Those guys have a huge impact on the team, so the next guy has to show out and improve and play at that level.
We’ve got a couple of capable guys that can fill in. Beau [Allen], man – with him obviously trying to figure out the defense and having as good of a camp as he’s already had, the sky’s the limit for that kid. If he stays steady and keeps improving, Beau could be a big time D-tackle for us.
Obviously with Buc (Deone Bucannon), we helped lead Coach’s defense to an NFC Championship, so his proof is in the pudding. We were a top five defense almost every year, so everything that could be said about Buc is painted in his career. He’s Deone Bucannon.
It’s hard to replace a guy like JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) – he’s such a special player. But at the end of the day, B.A. talks about the next man up. It comes with this job. Obviously that injury was freakish, and you hope that he can function like a normal human being as he recovers from his neck injury.
That’s a hard injury, but at the same time, we have guys behind him that want to make some noise this year – guys like Noah Spence. I’ve seen Noah come up in the short time I’ve been here and the focus he has this season. He’s ready to tear stuff up.
[Carl] Nassib is solid and Coach [Todd] Bowles is going to try to use his strengths and the strengths of others for the better. He’s going to try to put the best players out there to make plays. JPP is a hard loss for us, but it means guys just need to step up – and they will.
Previous Minter’s Bucs Camp Diary Entries
The next Minter’s Bucs Training Camp Diary entry will be published in a few days. Bucs fans and PewterReport.com readers are encouraged to leave their comments or questions for Miller below, and to follow him on social media.